There are empty rooms, smoke signals, and blinking cursors


A sea of uninviting dark green cascades across miles and miles of barren land. But in those miles brimming with evergreen, a gap parts the pattern. A cottage of sorts resides in the gap and swells in comatose. Drenched in washed-out white and crumbling wood, the smell of moss and decay and smoke bloom in the sky. The smoke wafts from the shingles and the siding, stabbing deep wounds and burns in the house. There is no one and nothing but a gap in the tall pines and a blurry abandoned structure.

The smoke’s origin is unknown, as is the house, but it does not hesitate. It suffocates the empty rooms in the house—constricts them. The rooms have no choice but to inhale the smoke because of the sealed windows. As the smoke drenches the floorboards and wraps the walls, it leaves blunt, charcoal-like smears on every surface it swipes. But because the rooms are empty, no one and nothing is really affected. 

Even though the interior of the lapsed home is scrubbed of substance, the exterior strangely exhibits a splash of synergy. Decrepit sofas, scathed desks, and cracked mirrors line the strung-out porch. But along with them, the only receptacle of a semblance of a former entity is an outdated computer. It is wiped of life and availability, but there is a document open. Only a blank document, a nameless font, and a blinking cursor. What was going to be said? Who was going to say it? This time, there is—or at least was—someone and something.

Now the fire is setting in. The collapsing begins. The peace is ruptured.”

The biggest question of it all is how is the computer still functioning? It has likely been obsolete for years by the look of it and buried in the scent of pine and unrelenting smoke. But, everything about the setting is already muddled; no sense can really be made of it.

The “someone” who once peered through the computer monitor and lingered on a cursor will never be known. Their words and thoughts will never be known. The next exhale of the house that just wanted to be accompanied will never be known. The reason for the smoke will never be known.

Not much really is known. But given the circumstances, a lot was blocked in terms of abundant memories and experience. The sky is constantly choked by clouds drifting in the fragile atmosphere, never revealing the endless strings of constellations that secretly loom above the roof. The pines never allow sunlight to sink between their needles, so no wildflower has never grown near the yard. The driveway, which is practically two dirt lines from the view of a bird’s eye, is strapped down by weeds, giving no further welcome to any potential visitors. Not even a meek sense of enlightenment will ever reach the grasp of this prosperity. It seems to be forever trapped in unwanted composure and isolation.

Now the fire is setting in. The collapsing begins. The peace is ruptured. The flames slit the house ruthlessly, giving the smoke additional areas to burst. The once empty rooms are now stocked with a blazing inferno. The outlandish computer is eaten by sweltering heat and the blinking cursor is now just a gaping gash in the monitor. Some of the near-standing pines get licked by the heat, coercing only a couple of needles to shrivel in red. 

The house is now officially bereft of any dainty sliver of recognition. The only story that could possibly be expressed is about the heap of smoldering rubble, and that’s all. The pines just observe the scene in their fortunate solitude, and the musty sky conceals any illusion of what has taken place.

For the time being, the only thing that remains is the sea of evergreen with a singular rift and a tenuous smoke signal. Momentarily, there will be absolutely no one and nothing.